Possibly expanding Vernon’s boundaries is getting a rough ride.
The city’s four representatives were out-numbered Wednesday when the rest of the Regional District of North Okanagan board voted not to support an application from a property on Barker Road in the BX to join Vernon.
“We’re not going out and looking for these citizens. They are applying,” said Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon director.
However, BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb is concerned the loss of land will impact his electoral area.
“These single, small annexation requests create challenges for planning for the regional district and the city,” he said of the tax base and the ability to provide sustainable services.
“Who will respond there? The BX-Swan Lake Fire Department has a list of who’s in and who’s out (of the electoral area),” said BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb.
The applicant is seeking annexation so he can connect to Vernon’s sewer system and avoid replacement of a failing septic field.
However, RDNO officials say the application package does not include supporting documentation by a qualified professional on the status of the septic system.
“We’re just taking their word that they have a septic failure and need to join the city,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake.
Macnabb says he isn’t convinced that the condition of the septic field is a sufficient reason for local jurisdictions to change boundaries.
‘It erodes the fabric of electoral areas and we want to prevent that,” he said.
RDNO is calling on Vernon to provide sewer to the property without the land being annexed.
However, city director Rob Sawatzky insists that isn’t possible.
“We can’t cherry-pick city services and we have to be consistent with city policy,” he said of current rules which link access to sewer with annexation.
The final decision on the Barker Road annexation application rests with the provincial government.
In a related matter, RDNO continues to proceed with a study on the impact of portions of electoral areas joining municipalities.
“We hope the study clarifies some of the issues. This is the first time it’s been done in the province,” said Macnabb.